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Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club

Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club

Yale University Press

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Chosen as a Smithsonian Scholar Favorite Book of 2022 by Karen Milbourne, curator, National Museum of African Art.

The first book to feature Jacob Lawrence’s Nigeria series, this richly illustrated volume also highlights Africa’s place as a global center of modernist art and culture.

This revelatory book shines a light on the understudied but important influence of African Modernism on the work of Black American artist Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000). In 1965, a New York gallery displayed Lawrence’s Nigeria series: eight tempera paintings of Lagos and Ibadan marketplaces that were the culmination of an eight-month stay in Nigeria. Lawrence’s residency in Nigeria put him in touch with the Mbari Artists and Writers Club, an international consortium of artists and writers in post-independence Nigeria that published the arts journal Black Orpheus.

The book and accompanying exhibition place the Nigeria series alongside issues of Black Orpheus and artwork created by Mbari Club artists, including Uche Okeke, Jacob Afolabi, Susanne Wenger, and Naoko Matsubara. Diverse essays explore the influence of Africa’s post-colonial movement on American modernists and developing African artists; the women of the Mbari group; and the importance of art publications in circulating knowledge globally.

Explore related artwork by Jacob Lawrence at the Chrysler Museum

Product Details

  • Product Type: Exhibition Catalog, Hardcover
  • 228 pages, with 153 illustrations
  • Publication Date:
  • Shipping Dimensions: 12.0 × 9.0 × 1.0 inches
    (30.5 × 22.9 × 2.5 cm)
  • Shipping Weight: 4.0 lb (64.0 oz; 1814 g)
  • SKU010007712 | ISBN: 9780300263176

About Kimberli Gant and Ndubuisi Ezeluomba

Kimberli Gant is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum. She is formerly McKinnon Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ndubuisi Ezeluomba is the Françoise Billon Richardson Curator of African Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

More Information


Please note the following catalogue corrections for Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club:

Page 50, plate 39:
Jacob Lawrence, Untitled (Crayon Drawing #3), 1964

Page 51, plate 40
Jacob Lawrence, Untitled (Crayon Drawing #2), 1964

Captions for plates 109 and 110 on pages 200-201 (Avinash Chandra) should be switched.

Download a printable copy of this notice.

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Thank You for your Support

Your purchase supports the mission and programs of the Chrysler Museum of Art (including the Perry Glass Studio, and the Moses Myers House). We couldn't do what we do without you. Thank you.

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